Indian and Jewish Traditions Blend in an Autumnal Wedding at Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina
Blending cultures together is a challenging feat. Nevertheless, sweethearts Binata Ray and Seth Brown were equal to the task. The bride’s Bengali and Jewish background and the groom’s Christian religion were expertly represented at their alfresco October nuptials in Durham, North Carolina. “Our inspiration for the decor was the garden itself. We chose the venue because we met at Duke University and wanted to get married in the same town,” Binata explains. “The gardens represent many important experiences and values in our lives—we went to graduate school here and Seth was commissioned into the Army here.”
Meeting in business school, maintaining a long-distance relationship and moving in together just before a global pandemic, Seth wanted his proposal to be intimate and memorable. “He organized a picnic in the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral—this had become a favorite spot for us to hang out during the pandemic,” says the bride. “It started to drizzle (which cleared out the park just for us), but since we were under a tree, we were safe and dry, and Seth proposed! He had designed the ring himself, using diamonds from his grandmother’s ring and designing the base to have a filigree look popular in Indian jewelry.”
The couple worked hard to customize their ceremony to reflect their backgrounds and personalities. “We spent a lot of time designing the ceremony, selecting readings and working with our officiant (our sister-in-law) on the vows,” Binata reveals. “To represent my upbringing, we did a garland exchange. In addition, we included several Jewish traditions for Seth: the seven blessings as a reading, the breaking of the glass and a floral, chuppah-inspired arch at the altar.” Guests looked on as bridesmaids in varying shades of red and blush, perfectly matching the day’s palette, walked down the aisle holding bouquets of ivory, coral and burgundy.
Binata wore a fitted, beaded gown with blush undertones and met her groom, sporting a light blue suit, at the altar. The couple exchanged heartfelt and personalized “I dos” amongst the beauty of their venue. “With the garden as the backdrop, we wanted it to have a nature and floral focus. The color palette was maroons, burgundies, deep reds and blushes,” she notes. “Red is the traditional color for Indian weddings, which we loved, as well as a beautiful color to represent fall.”
Once the “nerves and formalities of the ceremony were complete, we absolutely loved having all of our loved ones in one place to celebrate at our reception!” the newlyweds say. Attendees relaxed in the outdoor lounge space featuring modern furniture pieces and light touches of marsala wine hues, sipping on some refreshing signature cocktails. “One of our best vacations was in Oaxaca, so we did Oaxaca old fashions (with mezcal). Then, we did a drink we called “Delta’s Gin Rickey.” Delta is our dog’s name and then the Gin Rickey is DC’s “official drink” where we live—but we used Conniption Gin, a local Durham distillery that Seth loves.”
Reception tables displayed live runners made of greenery and low, autumnal centerpieces flanked by candles of varying heights. “I wanted a focal piece above us as well in the tent, and our planner helped develop the idea around the rattan lamps and ivy above the dance floor and throughout the space,” Binata details.
After the event, the new Mr. and Mrs. shared their main takeaways to help other couples design their weddings. “Hire a planner. Our planner made it much easier and less stressful on the day. Pick three things you definitely want at your wedding (maybe even one), as you will probably have to compromise on the rest. Lastly, find some time just for you: someone gave us this advice, but at one point in the middle of the reception, we walked away from the tent to be alone and look out over the party—that was really special!”